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Social Security Q&A: Getting Survivors Benefits

Question: My spouse died recently and my neighbor said my children and I might be eligible for survivors benefits. Don’t I have to be retirement age to receive benefits?

Answer: No. As a survivor, you can receive benefits at any age if you are caring for a child who is receiving Social Security benefits and who is under age 16.

Your children are eligible for survivors benefits through Social Security up to age 19 if they are unmarried and attending elementary or secondary school full time. If you are not caring for minor children, you would need to wait until age 60 (age 50 if disabled) to collect survivors benefits.

For more information about survivors benefits, read the publication Survivors Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.